How to Design Your Own Life
There are no guarantees that life will turn out the way you want… but you have a better chance of it turning out how you want if you know how to design your own life.
I like the image of an architect designing a building by first laying out the blueprints. Or a writer outlining a book starting with the table of contents. The ability to create from scratch is a powerful feeling. The house emerges from a sheet of drawings. The book takes shape from the imagination of the writer.
Can you really design your own life in much the same way the architect designs a house and the writer designs a book? I don’t know if we can design every aspect of our lives because we have certain fixed and certain variable aspects.
For example, we cannot change our upbringing: the parents, siblings, education, childhood experiences, and all that went on before you came to this awareness of your ability to design your life. All that happened in the past has shaped who you are today, so you will need to start designing your life from this point forward.
And you can have the best laid plans and still have them go wrong, get off track, or encounter obstacles. So since we can’t control the past and we can’t control the future, what can we control if we want to design our own life? Well, we can make a plan today, we can work our plan each day, we can modify our plan as necessary, and we can make the best of what shows up even when it’s not what we want.
I’ve assembled some tools I think every life architect should have in their toolbox as they take on the lifetime project of designing their life. See if these work for you.
The blueprint for your life can be like the architect’s house design, the author’s table of contents, or a business plan. You set out certain goals and you map out a plan of actions on how you will get to each one of them. Maybe you start with your ideal career and strategize how you will get from where you are to where you want to be. Then you can design your personal life, intimate relationships, friendships, children, pets, home, hobbies, and whatever else fits in your plan.
After you’ve created your blueprint, and before you take action, you need to get into the right mindset. The power of your thoughts, your positive mindset, your committed focus on your goals and your plan will improve your chances of success in each area you take action in. You must believe in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. You must become aware of your thoughts and maintain the ones that will support your getting what you want. You must eliminate distractions and focus on the end result.
With your plan in place and your mind set on success, you’re ready to take the actions necessary to build your life as you desire it. If you want to change careers, your first action may be to set up interviews with people in that career who you can get guidance from. The next action may be to sign up for classes that will increase your skill level necessary for the career move. And so on. Just keep following the action steps you outlined in your blueprint.
Actions need to be monitored regularly to check on your progress. Did the information interviews provide you with all you needed to know or do you need to schedule some more. Are you finding you have enough time to study for the classes you’re taking, or is it a challenge while holding a full time job? Have you taken an internship or entry level position in your new field and now it’s time to ask for a promotion? Keep monitoring your progress toward your goals so you can stay motivated. Celebrate the small successes on your way toward your bigger goals. Each success is one step closer to your ultimate life design.
Make corrections, adjust for change, re-examine your actions and your goals. As you hit obstacles, find a way around them. Make sure they’re not showing up often to tell you you’re on the wrong course. If that is the case, re-assess your goal to make sure it’s what you really want. Then establish some new actions that will get you back on the path even if it’s a different route.
All builders have a team. The architect designs the house, then the contractor steps in and hires plumbers, electricians, framers, etc. As you design your life, your team may include coaches, mentors, teachers, associates, partners, interns, contractors, and whoever else can help you achieve your goals.
As you start working your plan, review it on a regular basis, adjust for changes, and always reward yourself for your progress. With these tools in your toolbox, you’re on your way to designing your own life.